Monday message board (on Tuesday)

I missed putting up the Monday Message Board yesterday, but better late than never. As usual, civilised discussion and absolutely no coarse language, please.

34 thoughts on “Monday message board (on Tuesday)

  1. I was wondering the same thing Sinc.

    I think Terje has the point nailed with why Howard managed to dodge the mud.

    Rafe, I have a counter-question for you on Vietnam. How would a non-communist Vietnam have helped America and the western world? Or do you believe foreign policy should be all about philanthropy at the taxpayers expense? And since we’re talking about hypotheticals, since the western world opposed the Vietnamese overthrow of Pol Pot (who kills 30% of his country’s population in a few years), who would have done that if not communist vietnam?

  2. Sinc and John, I put this post up, then decided it was a bit bad-tempered and took it down for editing. I’ll put it up again when it’s fixed.

  3. Coincidence?

    Election over, gas prices up again:

    If you were a little suspicious of the way in which gasoline prices just happened to dive just before this month’s midterm elections, this bit of news won’t exactly put your mind at ease: After dropping 84 cents between Aug. 11 and Nov. 3, gas prices are up five cents in the first Lundberg Survey released after the Nov. 7 election.

    Trilby Lundberg tells CNN that the reversal in the 12-week pre-election slide shows that the market has “soaked up” a “mini-glut” of crude oil from August, causing a “normalization” of supply and demand.

    Here we go again. Oh, yeah, and all that talk of Iraq “withdrawal” has somehow morphed into sending more troops. What do we actually vote for?

  4. Terje,

    Bush and Blair made grand postures about liberating the world. Howard just said we should help the Americans which is a goal we have achieved.

    That is simply not true, and I am surprised it has not been challenged earlier. Howard made the same foolish claims about WMDs, then “spreading Democracy”, then “Defeating the terrorists”. He only recently fell back on the “help the Yanks” position.

    As Czech-born writer Milan Kundera once wrote, forgetfulness is both a blessing and a curse.

  5. Howard’s most important statement on Australian motives before the invasion is here:

    http://www.pm.gov.au/news/speeches/speech74.html

    It was an address to the National Press Club. As such it is very much the public face of Howard’s motives. Thus, the “insurance policy” motive is not mentioned, as indeed it wasn’t during the Vietnam War under similar public circumstances. However, subsequent revelations have indicated just how important it was as a motive back then.

    The remarkable feature of this speech is the utter absence of any promise on Australia’s part to “spread democracy”. There is much talk about the need for pre-emptive action rather than containment. Howard’s argument is that containment was as far as the West could go against the Soviet Union in the light of the threat of nuclear war. However, circumstances allow a more aggressive approach to Saddam.

    Howard therefore presents a very pragmatic argument:

    ‘As I said, ladies and gentlemen, at the beginning of my address, this is a difficult and confronting issue. There is a temptation, as some have argued, Australia should do is to sit on the sidelines, to be a spectator, to do very little either diplomatically or militarily, to leave the heavy lifting to others, to assume that we’ll somehow or other be okay in the equation and that in many respects would be quite an appealing approach. … I don’t think this is an issue that Australia can simply be a spectator on. I don’t believe sitting on the sidelines is either good for Australia nor do I believe it has ever really been the Australian way.

    ‘The world in which terrorism is a threat is not a world that any of us can escape. We haven’t escaped it and there’s always a worry that we won’t escape it in the future. But I have the strongest possible belief that the world must confront the twin evils of the spread of weapons of mass destruction to rogue States and the danger of those would be to me and to my Government the ultimate nightmare. It is a new and sobering reality.’

    Howard thus talks about the threat of WMDs in the wrong hands. He talks about defeating the terrorists before they have more fearsome weapons. And most of all he positions Australia in a subsidiary but not subservient role.

    Never, however, does he consider that the resolve of the major partners doing the bulk of the “heavy lifting” will falter. I guess he assumed that token Australian assistance would steel their resolve.

    Silly assumption, but the token nature of the assistance shelters Howard from most of the opprobrium currently suffered by Bush and Blair.

  6. O.K, so this is pretty radical. The following poem is taken from a song published in 1999 (yes 1999!), by a band named “Rage Against the Machine”. It’s a cynical look at the way news media can be used as a tool to shape public opinion, the incidental role war can play as ‘entertainment’ to some, and the Orwellian society in which many in the West are beginning to live. This is then juxtaposed with the reality faced by Iraqis everyday.

    There has been much debate recently as to whether artists have been doing enough to protest against the war, in comparison with the epic movements of the 60’s and 70’s against wars like Vietnam. Sadly, this band has wrongly been given the label ‘pro-terrorist’ by the “with us or against” subscribers, including former New York mayor Rudolf Guliani.

    Ironically, following the September 11th attacks, ‘Clear Channel’ created a list of “songs with questionable lyrics” that included all RATM songs because of their radical lyrics, and as a result it never received much radio play in the U.S.A.

    The movie ran through me,
    The glamour subdued me,
    The tabloid untied me,
    I’m empty please fill me

    Mister anchor assure me,
    That Baghdad is burning,
    Your voice it is so soothing,
    That cunning mantra of killing

    I need you, my witness,
    To dress this up so bloodless,
    To numb me, and purge me now
    Of thoughts of blaming you

    Yes the car is our wheelchair,
    My witness your coughing,
    Oily silence mocks the legless,
    Those who travel now in coffins

    On the corner,
    The jury’s sleepless,
    We found your weakness,
    And it’s right outside your door

    Now testify,
    It’s right outside your door

    With precision, you feed me,
    My witness I’m hungry,
    Your temple, it calms me
    So I can carry on

    My slaving, sweating the skin right off my bones,
    On a bed of fire I’m choking on the smoke that fills my home,
    The wrecking ball is rushing,
    Witness your blushing,
    The pipeline is gushing,
    While here we lie in tombs

    While on the corner,
    The jury’s sleepless,
    We found your weakness,
    And it’s right outside your door

    Now testify,
    It’s right outside your door

    Mass graves for the pump and the price is set,
    And the price is set

    Who controls the past, controls the future,
    Who controls the present, controls the past,
    Who controls the past, controls the future,
    Who controls the present now?

    It’s right outside your door,
    Now testify,
    Testify,
    The war is right outside your door

  7. The Israeli “Peace Now” organisation has published a reportindicating that Israeli settlements occupy a lot of privately-owned Palestinian land. In its summary of the report, The Independent says: “Almost 40 per cent of land used by Israel for its settlements in the occupied West Bank is the private property of Palestinians, the Israeli organisation Peace Now said yesterday on the basis of leaked official maps and other data.

    Contrary to official claims that the land is state-owned and that private property is only seized temporarily for security reasons, the leak shows that privately owned Palestinian land has been repeatedly used to build and expand settlements.

    The potential embarrassment to Israel is all the greater because it suggests that the use of private Palestinian land is especially prevalent in Jewish settlements which successive Israeli governments have made clear they are determined to keep”…

  8. Nice piece by Larry Johnson at the Coffee House on the Iraq war:

    http://www.tpmcafe.com/blog/coffeehouse/2006/nov/21/have_the_shia_won_the_civil_war

    I think Johnson has called it quite correctly. Iran and Syria have played the Americans of a break. Now how is our Winnie going to play this one as it unfolds. Still have to hand it to him, knows how to play the crowd loved his hand on the heart work at Long Tan earlier this week, Gallipoli a few years back. Does the impersonation of the late Big Winnie to a tee! Now if he would just tug on a cheroot and knock a brandy or too back I’d believe him. Time Beazley took some cricket lessons.

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